Budowsky: 2020 Dems are a 50-state party

Regarding the 2020 elections for the presidency, House and Senate Democrats now have the opportunity — if they act smartly and wisely — to seek a national political realignment and campaign effectively as a 50-state party at every level of government and politics.

The extraordinary unpopularity and divisiveness of President TrumpDonald John TrumpThe Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch To ward off recession, Trump should keep his mouth and smartphone shut Trump: 'Who is our bigger enemy,' Fed chief or Chinese leader? MORE, and the degree that Republicans act like hostages to the most fanatic factions of the Trump base, create opportunities for Democrats that were unimaginable since the days of the great and historic FDR coalition.

To achieve this realignment, Democrats must act smartly and wisely. They have to run as a broad-based party of national unity based on widely popular progressive positions, without the overreach and excess that is possible if a primary process that began too early and is fragmented by too many candidates leads candidates to take strident positions that win pluralities in overheated primaries, but threaten electability in general elections.

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There is widespread consensus for dramatic health care reform, for example, that would be destroyed by the overreach of trying to abolish all private insurance — which is allowed, in some form, in single-payer health care systems around the world.

Several current or potential presidential candidates, such as Sens. Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharGabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch Gabbard, Steyer inch toward making third Democratic debate MORE (D-Minn.) and Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades Dayton mayor assigned extra security following verbal spat with Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE (D-Ohio), show how strongly progressive candidates can win by large margins in more challenging states.

In the presidential campaign it is now possible that there are more Democratic candidates than the number of offensive and defensive players on an NFL team.  Many of these candidates are superbly qualified. Some less so. Others should consider running for critical Senate seats, or be drafted by state party leaders and workers, to run for those seats where they would be strong candidates.

House Democrats have begun the new Congress strongly. It is important that House Dems retain their majority after 2020, which will require the reelection of newly elected members not only from traditionally Democratic districts but from dozens of districts that are centrist and moderately conservative without a modern history of electing many Democrats to Congress.

Senate Democrats have an extraordinary opportunity to regain control in 2020 if the presidential ticket runs strongly and there are major recruiting successes of the magnitude that benefited House Democrats in the 2018 midterms.  

Senate elections will be critical in 2020, with Democratic control needed to enact the agenda of a new Democratic president, confirm Democratic judicial nominations, or block GOP judicial nominees if a Republican is elected president.

To achieve a national political realignment, major efforts are now being undertaken to recruit an all-star slate of candidates to run for the Senate. Democrats received a major lift this week when former Navy fighter pilot and astronaut Mark Kelly, the loving husband of the universally admired former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.), announced he would run for the Senate seat in Arizona.

It would be a huge success for Democrats if John Hickenlooper, a widely respected former governor of Colorado, would run for the Senate in Colorado instead of joining an overcrowded field of presidential candidates.

An all-star group of candidates would include Stacey Abrams, a rising star who excelled giving the Democratic response to the president’s State of the Union address, to run for the Senate from Georgia.

Under the radar of Texas politics today, there is private talk of trying to draft former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D) to run for the Senate in 2020, rather than becoming yet another presidential candidate. If O’Rourke won’t run for Senate, look for Texas Democrats to move aggressively to find another strong candidate fairly soon.

Democrats have been working quietly to recruit former Marine fighter pilot Amy McGrath, who ran a strong race in a tough House district, to run for the Kentucky Senate seat. McGrath would be a strong candidate against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats press FBI, DHS on response to white supremacist violence The Hill's 12:30 Report: Democratic field narrows with Inslee exit McConnell rejects Democrats' 'radical movement' to abolish filibuster MORE (R-Ky.), who is not highly popular back home.

While Trump has made Republicans an endangered species in many blue states, Democrats can now compete as a full-fledged 50-state national party!

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.